Opinion – Early Numbers Vault WPT Montreal Into Top 3 Canadian Main Events Months Before It Begins


Whenever a new stop appears on the Canadian poker tournament scene, we are often left to speculate just how well it will do. On some rare occasions, such as the WPT Montreal at Playground Poker Club to be hosted in late November, we are lucky enough to have some guarantees and numbers to at least make some conservative, yet impressive prize-pool predictions.

Never a fan of over promising and under delivering to players who put out their hard earned cash to attend an event, this glimpse will start with looking at what we know right now for sure, then adding some extremely light estimates that are based on Canadian circuit trends and past Playground Poker Club hosted events.

Bare with me as I attempt to take a logical glimpse in a proverbial poker crystal ball and I sincerely hope anyone considering the trip won’t need much more convincing, or strongly disagree with my “lowball” early predictions…

Playground Poker Club started running live satellites to the WPT Montreal 3000$ + 300$ Main Event a few weeks back, staring with a 100$ re-buy with 2 seats guaranteed; 5 ended up awarded. This was followed up with a 200$ satellite last weekend that awarded 3 more, once again guaranteed and an additional seat will be given to the winner of this weekend’s sold out $550 Six Max. After a little back and forth with the accommodating staff, it was confirmed that no less than 13 seats will be filled at the close of July.

Looking ahead to their August schedule, there are 6 satellites starting at 8:00PM, beginning with a 200$ + 20 re-entry with 2 seats guaranteed on Sunday the 5th and 19th, as well as 100$ + 10$ No Limit Hold’em re-buys on the 12th and 26th, each with 2 seats GTD. Then on Thursday the 9th and 23rd, 300$ + 30$ freeze-outs will be held, each guaranteeing 3 seats.

In addition to these, which will carry through to the WPT Main Event, along with even more chances added nearer to the date based on interest, several other promotions will also fill chairs; a cash game player offering will fill 8 more chairs and the regular $10,000 tournament leader-board free-roll will award 3 seats instead.

In total and confirmed with tournament staff member Phil Sabbah, no less than 89 seats are guaranteed to be filled before any extra satellites are added. This translates into 267,690$ worth of buy-ins with the 300$ registration fees already taken out.

Now we look at guaranteed seat promotions already firmed up by Party Poker staff; a minimum of 15 guaranteed are already allocated, without including daily and weekly qualifiers to be offered at a wide variety of buy-in ranges. Only using the definite 15, we add another 30,000$ to our total, putting it just under 300,000$ and 104 entries before a single player buys directly in.

Now we get into the estimating; Playground Poker Club has hosted 3 events with buy-ins of 2,000$ or more since it opened it’s doors less than 2 years ago. One was a sold out 32 max Heads-Up adding up to $64,000 another was a $3000 with 75 entries and a prize-pool of $216,703 and the third was a 2000$ + 200$ with 85 players. This gives us an average of 64 players per event at an average total buy-in off $2,567, with very few qualifying routes. Adjusting the 64 players by the buy-in difference (77.7%), we get a total of 50 or 150,000$ assumed added players and money.

This puts us at approximately 154 entries. Since Playground typically can accommodate 150-200 players per day depending on the speed of eliminations as well as the depth of stacks in play; knowing this is a well structured deep stack event we can safely assume that half the field, 450,000$ in prize-money or an entire Day 1 is already theoretically full…with 17 weeks to go until game day.

Since most pay-outs structures award 20-30% to the winner, using an average of 25% we are now looking at a rough, yet still low estimate of 112,500$ for first; a six figure top prize that only events in Vancouver or Niagara can match or best if we look at major series across Canada held in the past 2 years.

Looking at those two “poker hot-spots”, this top prize is already on par with the $5,000 2011 BCPC “High-Roller” and if we very conservatively assume that 5% of the 470 players that attended the $2,700 Main Event will have been local and serious enough grinders to also attend WPT Montreal; we can add 23 players from the West Coast.

Ontario has by far the largest poker population in the country and is home to many top pros who are begging for a decently structured, larger buy-in event close to home, with Montreal fitting the bill perfectly. Adding the 563 entrants in the $2,500 Fallsview event and 229 in the $5,000, we get 396 players at an average buy-in of $3,500. Let’s count on 40 players (10%) of those from the region who have never been to Playground Poker Club yet to be seizing this opportunity; hardly a stretch in expectations.

Typically, Alberta is the only Prairie Province that spreads $1,650 to less than $3,300 buy-ins, with 50-120 players competing for top prizes of between $40,000-$80,000. While many serious players have already expressed interest in making the trip east, let’s just say only a dozen from Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Alberta and the Maritimes actually turn out to compete for a world class title; this brings us to a total of 80 more players or 160,000$.

Going back to Party Poker, at least 10 more players, (more than likely double) should qualify in the packed months of satellites before the event, adding another 30,000$ and taking us easily over to the 600,000$ mark. Throw in another 10 entries to buffer the “theoretical” numbers listed above; for those chasing Player of The Year points from across North America, along with the added perk of no withholding tax.

So now, we can easily paint a statistical picture of roughly 244 players, without taking into consideration that both the World Poker Tour and Playground Poker Club have some of the most prominent and well known marketing efforts as well as having developed solid reputations; with both points helping to ensure word and confidence for the event reaches players far and wide.

Lastly, we include the fact that this is a re-entry event of the good kind; players who bust on 1a can try again on 1b, but they are done for the day otherwise if they find the bare felt. Tack on 5% for another margin of error for these high rollers who want the extra bullet and not including them, we still hit 732,000$ or more than $180,000 up top; based on an average pay-out structure.

*In closing, it must be noted that aside from the 104 guaranteed seats that were mentioned in the top half of this article, these are strictly my own very conservative theoretical projections and opinions; in no way do they represent any views or expectations made by Party Poker, the World Poker Tour or Playground Poker Club. In all reality what I can say for sure is that a POY eligible, world class title event with a six figure prize-pool and top prize will up for grabs and speaking on a much more optimistic level, I personally expect that this inaugural WPT Montreal stop will do even better than I have portrayed.

No matter what, CanadaPoker.com will be following all developments and looking to bring you the full schedule of Playground Poker Club events surrounding WPT Montreal as they become available; stay tuned!





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Jon Harnish
35 year old recreational player, husband and father of three from Calgary, Alberta. Enjoy lower stakes cash games including PLO and limit Omaha 8. Any of the micro-stakes HORSE games will play online MTTS and SNGs. Live, Tournaments and Satellites up to $550. I love the game but am far to social to take it seriously and sometimes give up a little to much information at the table because I enjoy discussing the game, so decided it was safest for my bankroll to take up writing about the game. That way I still get to meet the cool people and opinions on the game, but with a little less risk. Writing wise, currently a regular contributor to Poker Pro Canada, like to write profiles, previews and recaps the most. formally wrote for Canadian Poker Player Canada. My Poker Blogs have been featured on CardPlayer Social and SpadeClub as "Recommended" or in newsletters on several occasions and Pokerweblogs as "Blog of the Month". Past projects included organizing and promoting major events with the Canadian Poker Tour, introducing Big Slick Poker Tour to Southern Alberta and directing events and finals.


  1. great article i wonder if there will be some satelites the days before the event for i can go down there and tru to sattelite my self in you think you can look into that?

  2. Kyle, I think you’ll be pleased as Playground has said they will really ramp up sats close to event. We’ll try to post each months schedule at least a month in advance.


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